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IDEAS study at Hattiesburg Clinic could cover brain scan cost

Schwartz said the Memory Center at Hattiesburg Clinic is the only active site for the new IDEAS...
Schwartz said the Memory Center at Hattiesburg Clinic is the only active site for the new IDEAS study in our state.(Karrie Leggett-Brown)
Published: Nov. 23, 2021 at 6:04 PM EST
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PINE BELT, Miss. (WDAM) - Dr. Ronald Schwartz, the Director of the Memory Center at Hattiesburg Clinic, knows getting a diagnosis for Alzheimer’s Disease is easier said than done when you consider the cost.

The latest diagnostic technology is the new PET scan that detects the abnormal proteins in your brain that triggers Alzheimer’s Disease.

Unfortunately, that PET scan can cost between $5,000 and $6,000 but there is help.

“There’s a study, it’s a research study, that Medicare is doing called the IDEAS study. In that study, basically what they are doing is they are agreeing to cover the cost of the PET scan for a small group of patients,” Schwartz said.

Six or seven thousand patients in the country to be exact.

Schwartz said what Medicare does is look at the impact on the health care system of paying for this amyloid scan.

“If we pay for this test, which is going to be relatively expensive for Medicare to cover, but down the road, the patients who have an earlier diagnosis will get their diagnosis clarified. Do they have more testing or less testing down the road? Do they take more medicines or less medicines?” Schwartz said.

Schwartz gave this example: Your doctor diagnosis you with early Alzheimer’s Disease, you sign up for the IDEAS study, you get the PET scan and it’s negative for amyloid.

Schwartz said that means you don’t have Alzheimer’s Disease and you can stop your medicines. Schwartz said then management changes, either adding medicines or stopping medicines at least 50 to 60 percent of the time based on the results of the amyloid PET scan.

“So, one challenge for our field is to diversify the patients that have access to these PET scans. So, minority populations, Hispanic populations, African American populations historically don’t have access to some of these new treatments, or specifically these new diagnostics. Part of the focus of this new IDEAS study is targeting minorities to diversify the group of patients so we can see these proteins in the brains of the entire spectrum of the population of the country,” Schwartz said.

Schwartz said the Memory Center at Hattiesburg Clinic is the only active site for the new IDEAS study in our state.

If you are concerned a loved one could have Alzheimer’s Disease, and you want their status checked call the Memory Center at (601) 579-5016 to ask how to enroll in the IDEAS study program.

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